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Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan: Doc reconstructs Lee Morgan’s tragically short life

I Called Him Morgan.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
I Called Him Morgan
Written by
Kasper Collin
Directed by
Kasper Collin
Starring
Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan
Genre
Documentary
Classification
14A
Country
Sweden/USA
Language
English
Year
2016

Hey, Helen, where you going with that gun your hand? In the sublime documentary I Called Him Morgan, the common-law wife of the gifted jazzman Lee Morgan doesn't seem to able to come to grips with the undisputed reality that she murdered her husband – a man whose life she had probably saved by getting him off heroin years earlier.

"I couldn't have did this," she says of her act, "this must be a dream."

And indeed there is a hazy feel to the jazz-history immersion from the Swedish director Kasper Collin, who reconstructs the tragically short life of a New York trumpeter using talking heads, archival footage and the indispensable audio of a tape-recorded (and unfortunately unfinished) interview with Helen in 1996.

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Morgan's relationship with Helen was so star-crossed and layered it's a mystery why the story hasn't yet been made into a biopic. It's also a mystery why Helen got off on a charge of manslaughter, serving little time for the crime. Viewers might be left feeling unsatisfied because of the gaps in the story, but, then, unfulfilment comes with the territory when you're talking Lee Morgan.

– Brad Wheeler

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